Partner Mistreatment

19 Mar

Dear LetterBalm: Over the past few months, I’ve noticed that my friend’s wife has become particularly vicious towards him. She’s yelling at him, swearing at him in public, berating him. It’s really difficult to watch. She’s barely civil to him, even when she’s calmed down. My friend is clearly nervous around her and just trying to make it through the evening without setting her off. I have no idea what is prompting her behavior. But I know that if I bring it up to him, he’ll get defensive and I’ll get no answers. He might even tell her, and they’ll cut me out. I’m really concerned. What can I do?

–Worried About the Yelling

It’s evident that your best pal is being abused, and he’s either in denial or ashamed. Men often don’t acknowledge being abused by a significant other because they believe it makes them look weak. You also don’t know the reason for his wife’s new behavior. Did he cheat on her or commit a crime? Is she suffering from a chemical imbalance, bipolar disorder or other condition? Is she physically ill? Are they going through a crisis – financial, family, work – that you’re unaware of? Ms. L.B. disagrees with your idea that you shouldn’t interfere. Have a confidential talk with him. He needs to know that at least one person cares enough to want to know the truth. Make sure that in setting up your talk you don’t raise the suspicions of his wife because you want him to be relaxed. Try to stay non-judgmental:

Morgan, I’ve seen how Cathy is treating you, and I’m very concerned. This is abuse, pure and simple. I don’t know where it’s coming from, but I want you know that whatever the reason for her behavior, I won’t judge either of you. I know I’m running the risk that you’ll get angry at me and break off our friendship. But I can’t keep silent. I’ll help you contact domestic abuse resources and anything else that can get you through this. You and Cathy mean a lot to me, and I feel I must help because you desperately need it and I can’t continue to see both of you suffering. Now, want’s going on?

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